New pattern: Fancypants!

2015 178/365

I’ve written three tutorials to help people sew skirts without patterns. The process is fairly straightforward: measure your body, make a custom pattern from those measurements, cut your fabric according to the pattern, and sew. Easy peasy.

So, when I decided to do the same kind of thing for pajama bottoms instead of skirts, I figured, “how hard can it be?” Ha!

As it turns out, that part where you take your measurements and you make a custom pattern out of those measurements can be pretty darn tricky! Especially if you are trying to generalize the process so that it works for many different body types.


When all was said and done, Fancypants ended up being a 15-page PDF with a worksheet included, and an online calculator for those who get major headaches from mathy things.

To put this in perspective, my skirt-making tutorials are about half as many pages, and nobody needs a calculator.

Why so complicated? It’s all in the rise. Or, that area from the seat of your pants to the waist of your pants. Figuring out how to take that measurement into account so that it worked for all shapes and sizes of women caused me no end of headaches. The breakthrough moment was geometry-related and required my high school student to refresh my memory as to the formula for the circumference of a circle.

I simplified the formula for this, so don’t worry if you don’t know any of the digits of Pi. You can still make these pants 😉


I used my own body as a test subject, making long pants, cropped pants, and shorts, and when I was sure that those all worked, I found someone with a totally different body type than me (the aforementioned high-schooler, who is a little bit taller and a whole lot narrower than me), and the process worked on him, too. Whew!

There is a lot of meat in this tutorial. You are told how to measure your body. You are given a worksheet with formulas to help you translate your body measurements into pattern measurements. You are shown how to draw the pattern, cut out the fabric, and sew it all together.


If that’s not enough, you are shown how to transform the shape of the pattern. These pants are designed with a luxurious, feminine fit: close-fitting in the hip area with wide straight legs. If, however, you prefer some room in the seat, or you like to have a tapered leg (or a narrower straight leg), you are told how to do that as well.

This is a tutorial aimed at beginners, with every step spelled-out in great detail. There are lots of photos, and very little sewing terminology to know (and what terminology I do use, I explain). Of course, experienced sewists are more than welcome to use this pattern, too.

Here is the link to buy your own copy of Fancypants.


MOTIVATED BEGINNER level, step-by-step tutorial.

Fully illustrated, 15-page PDF.

Price: $9.99

During the month of July, I’d like to have a Fancypants sew-along. We’ll take one week where we’ll talk about taking your measurements, choosing fabric, etc, all the way through to sewing the pants. And you will be able to ask questions throughout the process, if anything seems confusing.

I would love to get started on this right now, but I think that with the July 4th holiday coming up (already!) people might be otherwise occupied. I’m going to save it for one of the later weeks in July. I’ll let you know when, once I have decided!

I put a lot of work into Fancypants, so I hope you love it! Thanks, as always, for your support :-)



TWiP: Summer, at last.

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

It’s the last full week of June. School is finally out and it’s been a week of family gatherings, pattern-making, and magazine purging. Not all of those things sound like fun to everyone, but to me they are. My only regret is that house-cleaning has not made that list in any significant way. I’m having one of those “doing the bare minimum to keep the place running” kind of weeks 😜

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


Instagram: It’s a cloudy Saturday morning. Perfect for lounging in bed with the windows open, sipping tea and reading blogs on my phone ☕📱

Instagram: Finish Lines with the fam.

365: 2015 171/365 – Visited my parents the day before Father’s Day. I have no idea what they were looking at, but it must have been interesting.


365: 2015 172/365 – Father’s Day with the in-laws, including the newest one :-)


Instagram: I had an unpleasant surprise looking at the Polka Dot Cottage funds today, and it has inspired me to finally liberate myself of the last of the inventory from my old book store. If you would like to help my bank account look less scary, and get a great deal on crafty magazines at the same time, please visit my eBay auctions at Thanks, friends 😊 #pdc

365: 2015 173/365 – It’s the big crafty magazine purge of 2015! Stampington, jewelry-making, wearable art, and more. All mags are fresh off the shelves and never been read. Many out of print titles, too. eBay auctions here:


Instagram: Back in the saddle, and really hoping fourth time is the charm with these lounge pants! ✂👖 #pdc

365: 2015 174/365 – Oh, happy day! I finally got my calculations right for making my own lounge pants pattern! (I made shorts because I was tired of wasting fabric…) I tested my pattern-making process on my taller-and-skinnier-than-me boy, and that worked, too. Yay! On to the tutorial-making phase! #pdcfancypants


365: 2015 175/365 – First Day of Summer!


365: 2015 176/365 – My kids would spend all day in their rooms if I didn’t entice them out once in a while with a snack or an icy drink :-) This afternoon it was iced coffee with almond milk and mocha syrup.


365: 2015 177/365 – I guess this means it’s time to go back to Ocean City.

Instagram: Progress! Pattern making process has been tested, online measurements calculator has been written, photos have been edited, tutorial first draft has been completed… Next up, proofreading, eBook design, and finally publication. Whew! This one has been way more involved than I thought it would be when I started! #pdcfancypants #pdc

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Revisiting those old shelves


Three years ago, I closed my online book shop. It was a decision that I have never once regretted.

That June cleared nearly all of the books and videos from my shelves, and what was left were magazines. Many, many magazines, which I have largely ignored until now.

Most of the Polymer Clay specific titles (your PolymerCAFE‘s, your From Polymer to Arts, your The Polymer Arts) were sold out at the time. However, I still had quite a few titles pertaining to other forms of wearable art and jewelry.

My current project...

This week, after an unpleasant jolt provided by the state of my bank account, I decided the remaining magazines had to go. The last two days have seen me lugging the heavy things out of the basement, sorting them into lots, and listing them on eBay.

I’m serious about my need to beef up the ol’ PDC coffers, and I hope you will take a look at these auctions and help a fellow craftsperson out. Even if you are not interested in anything I have to offer, I’d appreciate it if you could share with a friend, or with your social media circle.

My current project...

Here are the titles up for grabs

From Stampington & Company:

  • HandCrafted
  • Haute Handbags
  • Belle Armoire
  • Belle Armoire Jewelry
  • Altered Couture
  • Art Doll Quarterly

Other titles (a lot of these are out of print!)

  • The Crafts Report
  • Dollhouse Miniatures
  • Expression
  • Jewelry Crafts
  • Creative Jewelry
  • Ornament
  • Bead Unique
  • From Polymer to Art
  • American Style
  • The Polymer Arts
  • Art Jewelry
  • Bead & Button

I’ve got magazines ranging in age from 1997 to 2012. It’s kind of crazy. But maybe you’ll find some older issues of your favorite magazines to take with you to the beach this summer!

2015 173/365

While listing these auctions has been kind of a pain, it was also a nice trip down memory lane. I remembered why I loved some of these mags back in the day.

The Belle Armoire that featured both Donna Kato and a pair of really cool artsy Doc Martens? Donna is my favorite polymer clay artist, and I enjoy anything she does. Plus the article about those shoes set me off on a shoe decorating phase that lasted for years.

The old Ornament Magazines that regularly showcased such early luminaries in polymer clay as Kathleen Dustin, Cynthia Toops, and Tory Hughes? Great reads.

Anyway, I really think there is something for everyone in these auctions. There’s a lot there for polymer clay enthusiasts (I found more From Polymer to Arts on my shelf! I thought they were all gone!) as well as plenty to keep other artsy folks happy. In fact, I was tempted to keep a few myself, when I saw how much sewing and other needlework there was in some of these magazines. At the time that I bought them for the shop, I had no talent (or interest) in such things, but now I think I could really enjoy some of those projects! I must let them go, though. A girl has got to pay the bills. (sigh)

Thanks for bidding and spreading the word! ♥

Of TV Habits and New Reads

2015 123/365

Up until this past weekend, I had only one needlework project in active progress. If I’m being completely honest, I should put the word “active” in quotes, because progress has been nothing if not excruciatingly slow.

My schedule for personal needlework has gotten all out of whack in recent months. It used to be that Neil and I would park ourselves on the couch in the family room sometime around 8pm, and we’d watch a few things from the DVR or Netflix on our one and only television. I’d spend a few hours working on whatever knit or crochet project was in the basket next to me, and a steady progress would be made.

This all changed back in December, when Neil splurged on a bigger TV and started spending a good portion of the evening playing Destiny with remote friends on his Xbox. Despite the fact that I rarely look up when I’m engaging in needlework, and I listen to what is on the TV more than I watch it, I just couldn’t get into knitting to the sounds of a video game.

2015 113/365

And so it came to pass that I am now spending the earlier part of my evenings upstairs in my bedroom until Neil’s game time is over. We moved the old TV in there, and I sit on the bed watching my own preferred brand of television, mostly mysteries and sitcoms and other things that Neil really wouldn’t be into for our together time. We haven’t bothered to spring for cable in that room, so I’m limited to what I can get on Netflix, Acorn.TV, or one of the other streaming services. It’s fine, actually. I’ve got plenty to watch.

The thing is, for some reason lately, I just can’t seem to get into working on my projects upstairs on the bed. So I watch TV, futz around a bit on my phone, or process photos on the laptop, and leave the needlework downstairs. And while Neil and I do still have together time on the couch, there is less of it, and it starts later in the the evening, and by then I really don’t feel like crocheting or knitting or anything that requires my tired eyes to focus on something tiny.

So, progress is very, very slow.

2015 114/365

When you read all of this, it becomes pretty obvious to you, I would think, that I am blaming the state of my Ravelry queue on our current nighttime routine. And it’s true. I am. Or, rather, I was.

See, I think maybe I just don’t feel like crocheting a blanket anymore.

Saturday morning, I was lounging in bed, wandering around Pinterest, which I had only just re-installed on my phone (see above re:futzing around), and I found a beautiful shawl/scarf about which I just needed to know more.

I followed the link, only (and this is my biggest Pinterest pet peeve) the link went to the blog’s main page, and not to the page of the particular post.


I’m nothing if not stubborn, so I scanned through the blogs’s entire knitting archive until I came across it. The thing is, in this case, the fact that I had to search for the post was more of a blessing than an irritation. That blog had me delighted for more than two hours. Long after I found what I was looking for, I continued to read.

I love her way of writing. I love the things she makes. I love that her children are older (because so often, blogs are written by mothers of toddlers, and while that’s cute and fun, it’s not where I am right now). And I love that the winter gets her down as much as it gets me.

So, Cozy Things has earned a spot on my Must Read list, and has also made me realize that I want to knit. I have, it seems, been missing it. Who knew? As of Saturday night, the Family Room Squircleghan has been set aside (although not put away – I do still want to work on it in dribs and drabs) and a new project is on the needles. It’s a short-sleeved sweater that I saw on my new favorite blog, because in addition to being stubborn, I am also quite impressionable.

I cast-on a new knit

I’m not even sure if this style will flatter my shape, but I am giving it a shot for a few reasons, not the least of which is that short-sleeved sweaters are a not a huge commitment. If I don’t like it in the end, no big deal. Also, I think this will be a nice canvas for one of my grandmother’s big mother of pearl buttons. And I am impressionable like I said, and Kristen wears it so well.

Oh my, I really seem to have gone on and on this morning, haven’t I? My coffee is long gone, and I’ve already ignored one phone reminder to get off my duff and spiffy up the kitchen. (Yes, I need to remind myself of things like this daily, or I would never do them…)

It’s been a pleasure writing here today. Let’s do it again soon, ok? 😃